Church ordered to shut down

May 15, 2009 4:02:39 PM PDT
A Philadelphia church has been ordered to shut down by the department of Licenses and Inspection. The problem is the bell tower at the Bethel Community Baptist church at 3727 Barring Street in Powelton Village.

It doesn't take an engineer to recognize that this particular church building is on the brink of collapse.

An engraving suggests the gothic style structure was either built or dedicated a century and a half ago.

But the current occupants, Bethel Community Baptist Church, just moved in last year.

Action News spoke with the property manager who says church officials will have to find a new place to worship this Sunday and, maybe, for good.

"We had engineers out to look at this and they're going to put a beam in like a crate or maybe take it down," Chris Kerr said.

The church's condition is so fragile, the Department of Licenses and Inspections not only shut the building down, but the roads surrounding it have been closed off to traffic until the damage can be shored up.

But neighbors who live nearby have been passing up parking spots near the church for months now as a precaution.

Don Nilsen, who lives three doors down, says this old house of worship has been in disrepair for years.

To be clear, the church building has a private owner. Bethel Community Baptist Church rents the building.

Sunday services will be held at Celebration Banquet Facility located at 515 Warren Street in Philadelphia at 11:00 a.m.

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